By Rachel Monroe
Nothing is better than spending quality time with your kids. There are dozens of fun, free activities to enjoy in Grays Harbor, enabling you to create special family memories without planning an expensive vacation. Grays Harbor parents share some of their favorite family fun spots.
Stop by Friend’s Landing. Brenda Stopsen of Aberdeen and mother of three young girls recommends this destination stating it’s “great for bike riding and a short kids hike.” DeAnn O’Neill, a mom from Montesano agrees, saying her family “loves walking or biking the paved trail around the lake.” There are also several playgrounds.
- Attend events at your local library. Take advantage of the free playgroups, movies, art projects and story times offered by our local Timberland Regional Library branches. Events are offered on a weekly basis around the year. Call the library closest to you for a schedule or visit the Library’s events page.
- Cool off at Finch Spray Park. Callie White from Aberdeen says this is a great spot for hot days. Her toddler has a blast running through the sprinklers and water fountains.
- Drive up to the Wynoochee Dam. With over 145 miles of hiking trails, crystal clear water, boat launches and shady picnic areas, this is a picturesque spot to spend the day.
- Hike Preacher’s Slough Trail. Aberdeen mom Chris Church says her family loves this trail “starting at the main trailhead or the blue slough trailhead.”
- Stroll through Sherwood Forest. Nestled in the hills of Aberdeen, past Bel Aire drive, Ashley Emmet, mom of three, describes this forest as being “magical” and a fun place to visit with your kids.
- Visit Damon Point Beach. Aberdeen-based mom Kerry Tadique prefers this beach as she explains it is “cleaner, vehicle-free and less windy than the other beaches.” A Discover Pass is required, unless you visit on one of the eleven “free days” offered by Washington State Parks.
Eat a picnic at the Riverside Park. There is a paved walking trail, large playground, picnic tables and a refreshing breeze.
- Play at Lake Aberdeen. Aberdeen mom Sandra Kastner says Lake Aberdeen is a favorite destination for her and her son. There is a playground and picnic area. The lake is perfect for swimming, fishing or wading. A shallow portion is bridged off for younger kids.
- Tour the Coastal Interpretive Center. Hoquiam mom Sarah Hatley recommends visiting Ocean Shores’ hands-on learning center where kids can touch, feel and see anything from whale bones to animal pelts. The center is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.
- Watch the Lady Washington sail into the Harbor. Hatley also recommends sitting next to the “compass behind Wal-Mart” for a magnificent view of our state ship. Contact the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority for a schedule of when she is due in Aberdeen.
- Explore the Aberdeen Museum of History. Grays Harbor mom Julie Evensen describes it as a “great hands-on museum.” There is blacksmith shop, general store, old fire engine and much more. Admission is free although donations are appreciated.
- Walk the trails surrounding Grays Harbor College. Cayla Quinton, owner of Quinton Photography and mother of two, recommends this activity. Not only is it an ideal way to enjoy the local scenery, it’s a perfect time to talk with your kids about higher education and let them see what a college campus looks like. They are never too young to start thinking about the future.
- Attend a Home Depot kid’s workshop. These hands-on, in-store workshops enable kids to create a free wood project or craft. They also receive a certificate of achievement and a workshop apron. Workshops are held at the Aberdeen Home Depot on the first Saturday of the month.
Admire the boats at Westport. If your kids love the ocean and ships, Aberdeen mom, Angela Hoseney suggests walking down the docks in downtown Westport. There are dozens of ships and fishing boats to observe.
- Harvest wild berries and mushrooms. “If you know your plant and fungus identifications, going out foraging in the woods is a great thing to do with the kids,” says Grays Harbor mom, Leanna Summers. “We go up the Grays Harbor side of Capitol Forest, Lake Sylvia and the woods behind Shaffer State Park.”
- Walk Sand Piper Trail. Christina Barr-Teter, a Central Park mom of two girls suggests hiking this trail to watch the migrating shore birds. The trail is near the Hoquiam airport and is a two mile hike round-trip.
- Visit the Grays Harbor County Fair – admission is free for one hour beginning at 10:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of the Grays Harbor County Fair each year.
- Fly a kite. Take advantage of the beautiful beaches in your backyard. This article lists six Grays Harbor beaches that are ideal for kite flying.
- Attend a free community event that features tons of fun for the whole family. Here are a few suggestions that occur throughout the year –Easter Egg Hunt at Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam, 4th of July Splash Festival in downtown Aberdeen, Pirate Daze in Westport, McCleary Bear Festival, Buckaroo Days at the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds, and Festival of Lights in downtown Montesano.